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Habeas Blogus

Book reviews, more for my memory than anything else.

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Location: Austin, Texas, United States

Monday, November 06, 2006

Day 5, The Morning After

My bed shakes. I hear something four inches from my ear and jerk my head up. A foot sits on my headboard. Then the other one lands. The calves are shaven, increasing the chances it’s a girl.

I'm too tired for an introduction, so I close my eyes and play possum. Zip, zip, shuffle, shuffle, and she’s out the door. I go right back to sleep.

I wake up with the bells chiming 9 a.m. again, but I look at my watch and it’s 9:20. I get up, throw on the day’s clothes, and head down the hall to check in on Our Gang in room 20.
The door is ajar, and Justin is dressing. Paul is asleep, and Nima is nowhere to be found.

“She didn’t come in last night.”

For a Stanislawski moment, I picture looking at my computer at work. I point at my face, neutral as Switzerland, and say, “this is the look of my surprise.”

“Where was she?”

“Dunno, some guy I think.”

“Hmm.” He looks down and doesn’t move for a few seconds.

“What are you doing today?” he asks.

“I’m doing the Hemingway walk.”

“Hmm.” He looks around and grabs his gloves. “Well, as much fun as that sounds like, I think I’m gonna go to the Musee d’Orsay. Look at some impersonators.”

“I think you mean Impressionists.”

He looks at me like I’m an idiot.

“Sorry, man, it’s too early for my sense of humor. Haven’t had breakfast yet.”

We go downstairs and there are young people everywhere. We make some joke about growing old, and suddenly I wonder if any of these girls could be my new roommate... but there’s really no way to know. Well, there’s one girl who definitely isn’t her, but it’s probably rude to say more.

The South Africans are here, as are the Brazilians and the Argentineans. And a few Aussies. I get my baguette and shitty coffee and sit with my tour book and a map.

Today will be difficult, but I’m determined to read the whole walk before I start. I didn’t do that on the first day and I think I missed some things as a result. Start at a metro station in the 5th, end up at another one in the 14th. They’re pretty close to each other if you’re walking directly, but the round I have to make is shaped like a large balloon stretching through the 5th, 6th, and 7th before ending up there. It says it’s a 5-mile walk.

After I finish breakfast I head back upstairs to collect everything. Nima is awake and getting ready. Paul is in there with her.

You have to really try to imagine Australian accents in order for this to work right.

“So do I smell like sex?” she asks.

“I don’t know, I haven’t been that close to you yet.”

She runs up to him and pushes his head between her breasts.

“Ew, my God girl! Get the hell away from me with that sex smell. You’re turning me off! It doesn’t smell like you, it smells like him!”

“Fuck you, ya fuckin’ wanker! I’m gonna get my new boyfriend to kick your ass.”

“I hope he can kick ass better than he can serve drinks.”

“I’m gonna tell my new boyfriend that you said that, that you impugned his job skills.”

“Tell him he can kiss my ass.”

“Roight, I’ll tell him he can kick your ass.”

“Kiss!”

“Kick!”

“Get outta here ya fuckin’ skank. I’ll tell your new boyfriend to kick your ass while he’s at it. You’d probably like that, roight?”

“I don’t know, never tried it. But with my new boyfriend I’ll bet we’ll discover all sorts of new things togevah.”

“Did you ask your new boyfriend how many girls he has in a week? I’ll bet the bugger needs a snorkel to keep his head above all your fluids.”

“I didn’t ask him but how does he know I don’t lay just as many girls in a week?”

“You could have a competition!”

“You could be a judge!”

“You could kiss my ass!”

Paul gets up and runs toward her, arms out and hands grabbing.

“Get away from me fucko! I’ll get my new boyfriend to kick your ass!”

...and so forth.

Eventually Paul goes running. He’s going to England later in the evening after an extended stay in Paris, so he bids farewells, assuming he won’t see us again. Nima and I are left alone. We haven’t spoken since well before her evening with Peter.

“You remember what I told you about the Sun Also Rises? About the two main characters?”

“Yeah. Listen, mate. Could you help me here? I have to eat something but I think I’ve missed breaky. Do you think you could score me something?”

“I don’t think so, they’ve all gone. I may have something in my room or in the fridge, but I’m not sure.”

“Anything would be good. Goodonya, mate.”

I go downstairs to the refrigerator and take out the cheese I left there before. I don’t have any bread, but she’ll have to make do.

“Thanks. I’m a bit surprised I’m even up this early. Did you have a good time last night? I didn’t see you.”

“Well, I wouldn’t expect that you would! I gathered you were up to something.”

She looks at me, grinning out the side of her mouth. “Well, I wasn’t intending to. He wasn’t either, it was kind of a spontaneous thing, yaknow? Last minute.”

I laugh.

“What’s that?” She punctuates “that” with a near-S sound at the end, like “ts”. It’s something I’ve heard from a few Aussies when they’re really emphasizing something.

“Last minute? You’re kidding, right? It looked like you had been planning it all evening.”

“Nope. Paul and I were in there with Peter, then Paul left, and we were alone. I didn’t sleep much at all.”

“Have you ever heard the term cock-block?”

“Sure.”

“I thought Paul was being a bit of a cock-block last night. I actually tried to divert his attention a bit to get him out of the way, even.” I neglect to mention Peter’s involvement. Something in the “guy” code of honor prohibits me.

“No, not at all. I was just in there having fun and knocking one back. I didn’t think he was being a cock-block. Jesus, considering the experience I could’ve used a good cock-block.”

Oh, shit.

My John Wayne American stereotype stands an inch taller. “Was he mean to you?” I ask.

“No, not at all, he just wasn’t very, well, nice to me. I’ve had worse, but I think I’m old enough now to know when I could have had better. I mean, he took care of me, he was just a bit of a, well, blah.”

“Interesting. Well, next time you need a cock-block, you let me know. I thought you were in all-out seduction mode.”

“God, no. I’m never in seduction mode. I don’t know how to seduce anyone, they usually, well...”

“They usually come to you. That’s what’s so attractive about you. You don’t understand... you. You’re like a sun that shines on people when you’re interested in them. It doesn’t take much, but any guy would be drawn in. I’m glad you don’t know your power, ‘cause this way you can still use it for good.”

“Well, I don’t know about all that. But you can certainly be my cock-block anytime. Any time."
I look at my watch.

“Are you going? Do you have to be somewhere?”

“Today is Hemingway day. No more excuses. I’m actually going this time.”

“Well, don’t let me keep you.”

I start to walk out.

“Hey, Marcus.”

“Yeah?”

“What was it you wanted to say, about Hem and the Sun Also Rises?”

“Well," I pause. There's really nothing I can say and stay safe inside my cozy life. "It’s a pretty interesting story, don’t you think?”

“I will have to read it.”

I go out the door.

I take the Metro to the station at Censier-Daubenton, the first stop on Michael Palin's Hemingway tour. During the train ride, three Spaniards get on the bus and begin to play guitars and sing. It's beautiful and I consider missing a few stop to hear more, but they get off at my station. When I reach the street, the mood is perfect for Hemingway.

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